“The Full Monty” producer Uberto Pasolini makes his helming debut in the sweet, overly earnest immigration comedy-with-a-soul “Machan.” Based on the true story of a group of Sri Lankans flying to Bavaria and pretending to be the national handball team, pic is a standard collective tale, populated with stereotypes while distancing itself from any hint of carpet-bagging. Co-scripted by Sri Lankan playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera, with helmer Prasanna Vithanage onboard as producer, “Machan’s’ credentials are sound, though grit rather than mere pluck would have added punch. Feel-good vibes should work at smaller fests and on Euro screens.
Serious bartender Manoj (Gihan de Chickera) and scampish fruit-seller Stanley (Dharmapriya Dias) have their visas to Germany rejected. Stumbling on a flier for a handball tournament in Germany, and desperate to better themselves abroad, they apply without knowing what the sport is about. A motley team is assembled, with the intention of disappearing into the night once they’ve landed in Europe, but an unexpected welcoming committee means the guys need to delay escape until after the games. Moments of charm exist, but the few surprises feel tacked on. Visuals favor theatrical over-lighting.